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Masa Ishizawa
The defining moment in Chef Masa Ishizawa's life was when he decided he wanted to be a chef. As a young child in his native Japan, he spent his time reading restaurant reviews and watching food related television shows. Enthralled by culinary culture, he decided that he wanted to be a restaurant owner.

More than that, Chef Ishizawa wanted to be a hotel restaurant owner. And now, all grown up, that's exactly what he is. As executive chef of Wynn Las Vegas' premier Japanese restaurant, Okada, he is at the top of his game, playing out his childhood dreams. TravelsinTaste.com recently spoke with Chef Ishizawa about those dreams, as well his background, his restaurant and the experience he wants his customers to have when they eat in his dining room.

Chef Ishizawa established a culinary mission for himself at a very young age, and he has accomplished that mission in a larger-than-life way, working along the way in some of Japan's best kitchens, including the Kyoto hotel, and as corporate and executive sous chef at California's prestigious Riviera Country Club and Tennis Club. His mentors have included such well known chefs as Nobu Matsuhisa, of Nobu fame; Julian Serrano, executive chef of Picasso; and Katsuo "Suki" Sugiura, formerly of the Beverly Hills Hotel and Beverly Hilton, and currently executive chef of the former Ritz Carlton Boston-all of whom he continues to have good relationships with. In fact, he says Chef Serrano is almost like a brother.

Speaking of family, during his days off, Chef Ishizawa likes to play golf-after all, he was executive sous chef at a country club-and spend as much time as he can with his wife, his two boys and his dog. "I promised my family when we moved from Los Angeles to Las Vegas that I would be spending quality time with them," he says.

Of course, Chef Ishizawa spends plenty of quality time in his kitchen, too, and his favorite time of the year to be there is in the fall. "Autumn is the best!" he says. It's not too hot, not too cold, and a lot of fresh and wild ingredients are growing and making their way to the markets—even in Las Vegas, where many chefs claim good produce is hard to find. Chef Ishizawa insists that even in Vegas he is always able to get the produce he desires. "Fortunately," he says, "I'm working for a big, nice organization: the Wynn hotel. They always help me to get very good food and ingredients. It's my pleasure to be working at this high-quality, five-diamond hotel."

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